Disabled activists have staged a protest against the firm that carries out the Government’s controversial “fit for work” assessments.
Disabled and anti-cuts campaigners have been rallying all over the country for the last week because they claim the tests for people on disability benefit by the IT firm and Paralympics sponsor Atos are “damaging and distressing”.
On Friday they took their protest to Atos’ London headquarters before carrying out a “secret action” at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) building in central London.
Several protesters got into the DWP building and a further two in wheelchairs chained themselves to the doors, according to UK Uncut, who have been staging the protests together with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
Pictures posted on Twitter showed the group sporting a banner which read “Tax Avoidance = £25 billion, Welfare Cuts = £4.5 billion” outside the DWP’s offices in Caxton House.
Molly Solomons, a spokeswoman for UK Uncut, said around 150 people had taken part in the protest at Atos’s headquarters, with a further 30 moving on to the DWP building.
She said: "We are doing this to highlight that Atos, a sponsor for the Paralympic Games, is receiving £100m from the Government in the hope they will assess people with disabilities and get them off benefits.
“This is due to a political and ideological choice which harms disabled and sick people, not an economic necessity.”
On Tuesday activists cut off traffic with a road blockade in Cardiff and on Wednesday they delivered coffins to Atos.
Atos has held the contract with the DWP for work capability assessments since 1998 and says that doctors and nurses it hires carry out 15,000 face-to-face assessments each week.
A spokeswoman for the French multinational said: “We fully respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we understand this is a highly emotive issue.”
Atos’ contract with the DWP was extended in 2005 and again in 2010, and is due to last until 2015 under current arrangements.